8 Things You Need to Consider Before Selecting a Task Chair for Your Home Office!

    Task chair: Sayl from Herman Miller. Render: BSD Interior Design

The Value of Ergonomic Seating

With so many people working from home either as entrepreneurs running their own business or folks that are telecommuting, most end up spending many hours sitting at a desk while working; therefore, it is critical that your home office chair provides the appropriate ergonomic support. Yes, I’m talking about the highly engineered, ergonomically designed chairs like the ones you see in a typical office setting. 

l designed ergonomics and comfort are highly important for anyone who spends a good deal of time at their home workstation. Your back and neck will thank you for it in the long run! 

This also means that dining room chairs or fixed (non-adjustable) upholstered chairs are a no-go. They do not have the ergonomic or the lumbar support your body requires throughout the day and the seat cushion foam will eventually degrade from all the hours you sit on it. Chairs that fail those requirements, will eventually start to make you feel some back, shoulder, and/or neck pain.

Rule number one, the task chair needs to fit your body frame and not you fitting to the chair! The adjustments should be smooth and intuitive and easy for a wide range of users, from petite to NFL player size! If you feel like you need to lift weights on a regular basis just to adjust the chair settings, then it’s time to move on. You see, it’s considered healthier to frequently change up the settings on your chair because you aren’t as likely to suffer from repetitive strain injuries if you make minor adjustments to your chair a few times a day. Finding your most comfortable settings and never readjusting them again means you are putting pressure and strain on the same muscles and tendons every day.

A high-quality ergonomic task chair is an investment for sure, easily running as high as $1,000 or more, but assuming you will be sitting in it for long periods of time, the long term investment will be well worth it. A well-built chair can last you upwards to a decade… and will likely survive several computer upgrades!

Lumbar Support

This should be a non-negotiable one, just like your car needs its brakes and shocks! The most essential part of any ergonomically designed task chair is the back support. The chair has to have a mid-back or lumbar region support, and you should be able to easily adjust it with minimal hand and finger force while you remain seated. You are not meant to squat and wrestle with the chair to adjust it, or have to take up bodybuilding as mentioned above!

The natural curve of your lower back should be supported when seated and the chair should automatically feel comfortable without the need for any external lumbar devices, pillows should not be needed.

Asymmetrical lumbar support is best, as the majority of people tend to need more support on one side than the other because most people’s bodies are asymmetrical too. In addition, most people are prone to lean slightly more to one side due to using a mouse with your right or left hand.

Image Source: Haworth (left) and Steelcase (right)

Adjustable Seat Depth

This is the part that supports and protects your hips and bottom! An ergonomic chair has the capability of adjusting the seat pan at least 3 inches. The optimal width between the seat cushion and your knee is about 2-3 inches.

For a tall person, the adjustability reduces contact pressure under the thighs. For a short person, it reduces pressure behind the knees and prevents them from having to sit on the edge; therefore losing the lower back support. The bottom line, the back of your knees should not be touching the chair…ever.

Seat Recline

Leaning back in our chairs deduces the pressure on the spine and increased blood flow. The preferred designs integrate the movement of the seat and back and also offer stoppable/lockable settings. Some of the latest designs have auto-harmonic tilt, all the user needs to do is to adjust the height and the self-adjusting mechanism automatically provides balanced support depending on the person’s body and posture.

Whether you’re talking on the phone, typing on the computer or texting on a smartphone, the chair should support your body to avoid discomfort and long-term injury.

Image Source: Steelcase

Arm Rests

Your arms make up about 10% of your total body weight. Lack of arm support may result in soreness in your shoulders, upper back, and neck. Depending on the task at hand, having the flexibility of moving the armrests in-out of the way is very important.

What to look for: The best armrests rotate and are the so-called 4D arms or synchronous, meaning they are vertically and horizontally adjustable (translation: adjustable up and down, side to side, front to back, and pivot in and out). This will allow for your shoulders to relax and your elbows to stay close to your body.

Armrests should be attached to the seat frame, to allow for movement with the user through different reclines.

Image Source: Haworth

Base

A good quality five-legged base is essential for any office chair worth investing in. Any less and the chair is prone to tipping, especially when people want to recline.

casters
Image Source: Steelcase

Casters 

This is an easy one. Depending on the flooring, you can choose between casters for carpet or hard flooring (wood, tile, and laminate flooring). If you have carpet or an area rug underneath your workstation, make sure it is a low pile as it will be easier to move the chair and show less of indents or crushing of the carpet fiber in the rug. Many people choose to purchase a chair mat to prevent the casters from wearing out the flooring material. The mats also allow you to easily roll on your chair’s casters if your home office carpet is a high pile. If you decide to purchase a mat, don’t skimp on the footprint size, especially if you have a large desk.

Sustainability

Is the chair made of recyclable materials and can it be easily disassembled at the end of its useful life, and will the manufacturer take it back? 

Warranty

A no-name chair comes with a 1-3 year warranty at most, on the other hand, higher-end chairs from well-known manufacturers usually come with a 10-12 year warranty. The most important parts that might need replacement would be the pneumatic cylinder, armrest pads, and seat cushion. Most high-end manufacturers provide warranties that cover these parts.

Berglind Davis | eDesigner and Owner, BSD Interior Design

Berglind Davis is a native of Iceland and studied Interior Architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She later studied in an exchange program at the Rhode Island School Of Design. After graduation, Berglind moved to the United States and began working in residential, commercial, and healthcare interior design. Her design aesthetic is an uncommon hybrid of Scandinavian and American influences. She produces bold spaces that are playful, yet comfortable, and practical. Berglind prides herself in creating environments that satisfy her clients’ needs while simultaneously offering eccentric points of interest that spark the imagination.

Learn more about working with Berglind Davis of BSD Interior Design through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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